Achieving a milestone title was not enough for some Paris Saint-Germain fans.
Even as his team won a record 10th French League title late on Saturday, disgruntled supporters chose to express themselves before the end of the 1-1 draw with Lens so that the title could be celebrated outside the Park des Princes without players. .
“I don’t understand those things, because you win in football and you lose,” PSG midfielder Marco Verratti said. “We always try, we try with all our heart. We are ordinary people, we can fail.
Since being taken over by Qatar Sports Investments in 2011, PSG has been the most influential club in France, winning eight of the last 10 titles. Only Monaco in 2017 and Lilly in 2021 were able to interrupt PSG’s triumphant march.
Kylian Mbappe did not have his shooting boots against the lens, but he is the driving force behind PSG’s recent title, leading the league with 22 goals and 14 assists. The French striker has been the most valuable player in the club and in the league, leaving behind his teammates Lionel Messi and Neymar.
Messi needed time to adapt to his first season in the French league after two decades in Spain, and yet he made significant contributions with four goals and 13 assists.
Neymar suffered fitness problems early in the season and was then sidelined for more than two months due to an ankle injury. But the Brazilian striker is completing the campaign strongly with 11 goals and five assists.
While Mbappe, Messi or Neymar could not make a difference, their teammates came forward. Morocco’s full-back Achraf Hakimi, for example, scored twice in a 2-1 win at the Metz in September. Marquinhos and Angel Di Maria helped PSG beat Lille 2-1 in October.
This is Mauricio Pochettino’s first league title. The Argentine coach led PSG to the runner-up last season after replacing Thomas Tuchel in the winter. Pochettino was unable to implement the high-energy brand of football for which he was known in Tottenham in the English Premier League, especially with attackers who looked like passengers in some games. But his man-management skills contributed to maintaining a certain unity in the dressing room despite the click and huge ego.
To some extent, the French league has become too small for PSG.
With international players in each position, PSG is operating fishing trawlers while other French clubs are still using fishing rods.
But for supporters, the season felt like a regression as PSG were knocked out by Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League after reaching the final in 2020 and the semifinals in 2021.
The owners of Qatar have kept it a secret about their European ambitions. The capture of Messi among other top signatories last summer has raised significant expectations of eventually winning Europe’s biggest club title. But despite all the money pouring in, the team’s collective expression seemed smaller than the sum of its parts.
PSG boomed during a 3-0 win over Bordeaux in March, just days after PSG lost 3-1 to Real Madrid in the second leg of their last 16 tie. PSG won the first leg 1-0 and led 1-0 in the second leg while Real Madrid scored three goals in 17 minutes. It was the same mental collapse of the second round defeat against Barcelona in 2017 that made a 4-0 win in the first round meaningless.
“We have a difficult season with the defeat against Real Madrid,” said PSG Sporting director Leonardo. “We played in a really surrealistic environment. It was as complex as it is today.
Disconnect with supporters continues. After the victory over Bordeaux, PSG supporters protested at Park des Princess, giving their team a silent treatment, refusing to support them with chanting.
Despite winning the French league title on Saturday, the players were booed at halftime due to insufficient confidence.
Anger is not only on the players but also on the owners and Leonardo, questioning their vision and policies.
The club signed Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donarumma, although they already had world-class goalkeeper Kilor Navas and good backups Sergio Rico and Alphonse Arola. Likewise, Giorgione Vijnaldum was a regular starter in Liverpool but proved to be weak for PSG’s brand of football. Vijnaldum has made just 17 starts in the club’s 34 league games.
Sergio Ramos was also signed despite suffering from injuries last season at Real Madrid. Ramos was recruited to help PSG shine in the Champions League, but the Spanish legend was unable to play in the competition due to a calf injury and made only nine appearances in the French league.
The club faces a major challenge to repair its deteriorating relationship with its supporters, some of whom believe the title is not everything.